Updated april 22, 2022

Your Guide to Traveling Around Croatia with a Rental Car

Aleksandrs Buraks
Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com

Why should you rent a car in Croatia?

Home to beautiful beaches, a relaxed atmosphere, and historic sites, Croatia has become the favorite travel destination of many foreign visitors. Picturesque Adriatic coastal towns like Pula, Šibenik, and Dubrovnik, as well as hundreds of scenic islands, draw the largest numbers of visitors, but the capital city of Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and the northeastern region of Slavonia can be just as fascinating to explore. Getting a rental car means you'll be able to explore everything that this country has to offer and make your own adventure as you go.
TOP TIPS:
  • Save money by picking up and dropping off the car at the airport!
  • Spring and autumn months are a good time to visit the country — rental cars are notably cheaper than during the high seasons of summer and Christmas holidays!
  • Small cars are not only cheaper, but they are also actually more convenient in cities like Zagreb and Split.
  • Enjoy the coastline of Croatia, but also give the interior a chance — many fascinating destinations are just a couple of hours away from Split or Dubrovnik.
  • There are many cheap rental car deals in Croatia, but make sure to also check the rental conditions and the rating of the company.
  • Learning some basic Croatian phrases will go a long way, especially outside the main tourist areas.

Your Guide to Traveling Around Coratia with a Rental Car

By Aleksandrs Buraks | Updated April 22, 2022
TOP TIPS:
  • Save money by picking up and dropping off the car at the airport!
  • Spring and autumn months are a good time to visit the country — rental cars are notably cheaper than during the high seasons of summer and Christmas holidays!
  • Small cars are not only cheaper, but they are also actually more convenient in cities like Zagreb and Split.
  • Enjoy the coastline of Croatia, but also give the interior a chance — many fascinating destinations are just a couple of hours away from Split or Dubrovnik.
  • There are many cheap rental car deals in Croatia, but make sure to also check the rental conditions and the rating of the company.
  • Learning some basic Croatian phrases will go a long way, especially outside the main tourist areas.

Why should you rent a car in Croatia?

Home to beautiful beaches, a relaxed atmosphere, and historic sites, Croatia has become the favorite travel destination of many foreign visitors. Picturesque Adriatic coastal towns like Pula, Šibenik, and Dubrovnik, as well as hundreds of scenic islands, draw the largest numbers of visitors, but the capital city of Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and the northeastern region of Slavonia can be just as fascinating to explore. Getting a rental car means you'll be able to explore everything that this country has to offer and make your own adventure as you go.

When should you go to Croatia?

The tourist season on Croatia's famous Adriatic coast generally lasts from May to mid-October. July and August get the largest amount of visitors and many popular beaches can get quite crowded during this time of year; these are also the warmest months, and temperatures often reach or exceed 35 °C (95 °F). Even during the winter months, the weather is fairly mild in Croatia's coastal areas, so if you're more interested in the history and architecture of Split and Dubrovnik, visiting in late autumn or early spring can actually be preferable as crowds will be much smaller and prices for accommodation and rental cars will be lower. Precipitation in Split is quite high throughout the year and although it is at its lowest in June and August, even in the summer months the city gets considerably more rain than the Mediterranean cities of Italy and Spain.

Located considerably inland, temperatures in the national capital, Zagreb, are usually a couple of degrees lower than the coast. Summers can still get very hot there, but if visiting during May, June, or September the weather will usually be very pleasant. Zagreb has, on average, 30 snowy days per year and it's not uncommon for temperatures to slip below 0 °C (32 °F) in winter, and although it can reduce the time you'll want to spend outdoors, the city admittedly does look very pretty when covered in snow.

Now that you've decided when to travel to Croatia, check out our prices for the dates you have chosen!

Where should you pick up a car in Croatia?

Most visitors to Croatia prefer to pick up a rental car at the airport. There are nine international airports in Croatia connecting the country with destinations in Europe and beyond. The busiest airports in Croatia are Zagreb Airport, Split Airport, and Dubrovnik Airport. Many low-cost airlines, such as Eurowings, easyJet, Volotea, Vueling, and Wizz Air, fly to and from Croatia.

It is also possible to pick up and drop off a car at many other locations such as international hotels, car rental company offices, and train stations.

Many car rental companies in Croatia offer one-way rentals and it's quite popular for tourists to travel between Zagreb, Split, Pula, and Dubrovnik with a rental car, picking up the car in one location and dropping it off in another. Most rental companies charge a small fee for this service.

International one-way rentals are also possible depending on which neighboring country you would like to visit. Croatia is a member of the European Union and is expected to join the Schengen Area, but as of May 2020, it is not yet a Schengen member. This means that border checks are in place between Croatia and all of its neighboring countries. Out of Croatia's five neighbors, Slovenia and Hungary are members of the EU, but Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are not. You can check to which places one-way rentals are available by searching for your desired pick-up and drop-off locations and dates on our website. Depending on your citizenship, you might also need a visa to visit a country neighboring Croatia, so consult with your Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advance.

How easy is it to travel around Croatia independently?

Croatia is becoming increasingly easier to explore on your own. The country receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. From accommodation and rental cars to tours and experiences, there's a wide choice for everything that a traveler might need, and most things can be booked online nowadays.

The overall quality of the roads in Croatia is good. The main highways are in great shape and secondary roads are quickly catching up. It's important to keep in mind, though, that much of Croatia is mountainous, so some roads can be very narrow or steep. If you have no previous experience driving at higher altitudes, be extra cautious, especially after dark. Getting an up-to-date GPS device is a good idea as it can be handy both in the cities and in rural areas. It's possible to use an app, but you can also ask your rental car provider about the availability of a GPS for your vehicle. The road culture in Croatia is good and although local drivers are not shy to overtake or use a horn, driving in the country is usually a pleasant experience.

Croatia has more than 1,200 islands, and while many are small and uninhabited, some, like Krk, Korčula, and the Brijuni Archipelago, are popular tourist destinations. Most islands can be reached from the mainland by ferry. Some ferry companies allow renters to bring a rental car onboard, but others do not — you should find out in advance and also make sure that your rental car provider allows it. Some islands, like Silba and Unije, are pedestrian-only. In that case, you can park your rental car near the port and pick it up after returning to the mainland.

How safe is it to travel around Croatia by car?

Croatia is overall a very safe country. Police are trustworthy and violent crime is extremely rare. Tourism is one of the main industries in Croatia and the country cares a lot about the safety of its visitors.

Although not as often as in places like Rome or Paris, tourist scams and pickpocketing do occur, especially near popular tourist attractions in Split, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb. Keep your wits about you and make sure you always know where your belongings are. If you have been a victim of a crime or feel threatened, do not hesitate to call the police. The general emergency number in Croatia, like elsewhere in the EU, is 112.

Although the Balkan Wars of the 1990s are long gone, landmines still remain in some regions of Croatia. Do watch out for mine warning signs and do not go on impromptu hikes! If you're visiting a national park or another scenic area, ask the local authorities about the safety of hiking in the area.

What languages are spoken in Croatia?

The official and main language of Croatia is Croatian. A Slavic language, Croatian is mutually intelligible with Serbian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin (they are sometimes considered to be one language that is referred to as Serbo-Croatian). Croatian has some degree of mutual intelligibility with languages like Slovenian and Russian, but the differences are also quite pronounced. Learning at least some Croatian phrases is a sure way to make you popular among the locals.

Knowledge of English in Croatia is quite high in big cities like Zagreb and Split (especially among the younger generations) and in the popular tourist destinations but is considerably lower among the older generations and in rural areas. Not everyone you will meet will speak English, but usually, it's quite easy to find at least one English speaker nearby. English is spoken by many people working in the tourism and services sectors.

Italian is a co-official language in Istria County. Italian speakers have lived and co-existed with Croatians in Istria for centuries. A lot of Croatians in the rest of the country speak Italian as well. About a third of Croatia's population also understands German.
Three under-the-radar destinations to visit in Croatia:
Slavonia. Due to Croatia's unusual shape, very few visitors get to experience the country's northeastern region of Slavonia — it seems simply too out of the way in relation to the country's beach hubs. That is a shame because Slavonia is a truly authentic part of the country with a lot to offer — you'll find traditional villages, architecture, and cuisine that have a lot in common with Central Europe, and the large and picturesque wetlands area of Kopački Rit. An off-the-beaten-path destination without the crowds you'll find elsewhere in the country, Slavonia is also closer than you probably think — the region's largest city, Osijek, is less than a three-hour drive from Zagreb and Papuk Nature Park is just a four-hour drive from the coastal city of Rijeka. Osijek also has an international airport.

Rijeka. Since we've mentioned Rijeka, this northwestern city also deserves a closer look. Although it is certainly known — it is, after all, the third-largest city in the country — most travelers bypass it for either the beaches of Istria or Dalmatia or the grandeur of Zagreb. Those who do stop here will find interesting architecture with Venetian influences, the impressive Maritime and Historical Museum, the Astronomical Center of Rijeka, and some of the most picturesque coastal drives in the country. Even the city's beaches, while not as famous as some others in Croatia, are really enjoyable. Rijeka is one of the European Capitals of Culture of 2020.

Risnjak National Park. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous protected area in Croatia and most visitors to the country have probably at least heard about it. But did you know that there are seven other national parks in Croatia (plus a number of smaller "nature parks")? Our pick of the rest of the bunch is Risjnak, a fairly small, but supremely scenic protected area located on the country's border with Slovenia. Made up of white-and-green peaks, ancient caves, and mixed forests, it is also home to surprising diverse wildlife such as red deer, brown bear, chamois, and especially lynx — this wild feline, known in Croatian as ris, gives the park its name. Risnjak is a 45-minute drive from Rijeka, 90 minutes from Zagreb, two hours from Pula, and about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Zadar.
What about filling up in Croatia?
Croatia has an extensive road network, but keep in mind that this is an island country - many of the smaller islands might have only one gas station on them or none at all. Similarly, having a full tank is a good idea before traveling to explore the mountains.


Many Croatian gas stations usually work from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m - however, there will be at least several that work 24/7 on each major highway.


Prices at Croatian gas stations are shown per liter (1 liter = 0.26 US gallons).
How expensive is gas in Croatia?
As of April 2022, the price of gas in Croatia is 1.61 EUR per liter.
How much does a rental car in Croatia cost?
Different places in Croatia have different price dynamics. In Zagreb, the average price is only €15 in May, €44 in December and €66 in July. In Split, the average is only €9 between January and March, but €51 during the summer months. In Rijeka, the average is €44 during both summer months and in December, but only €18 in September.
Which car rental company in Croatia offers the lowest rates? What are some tricks for getting a better deal?
There are many cheap car rental offers in Croatia, but the cheapest price doesn't always mean the best service - instead, look for a combination of price and rating left by previous customers, and remember to also check the rental conditions (more on all of that below).

Factors influencing the rental car price include the transmission system of the vehicle (manual is usually cheaper), how early in advance you book the car (the earlier the better), and the place where you pick up and drop off the car (airports are usually cheaper).
Which car rental supplier is best for you? Are the rental conditions important?
Price is obviously a huge factor when choosing a rental car, but it shouldn't be your only concern — often, for a couple of euros more, you can find a much better overall deal. Instead, try to look for a company that offers both a good price and has a good rating from previous travelers.

Also, make sure you are familiar with the rental conditions! Different rental car suppliers will have different conditions. The rental conditions can influence the final price of the car and are important to be aware of in general.

You can find the rental conditions when searching for a rental car on our website.
What else should you keep in mind when renting a car?
Some of the most important things when picking up a rental car is knowing your rental car supplier's fuel and mileage policies along with its driver requirements.

Mileage policy :
A rental supplier's mileage policy is the maximum permitted distance that you are allowed to travel per day (or sometimes per week) with your rental car. Once you exceed the permitted distance, you will be required to pay an extra fee for every additional kilometer you drive. There might also be the maximum permitted mileage for the whole of the rental period.

Different rental car suppliers have different mileage rules. It's important to know about them before booking your car, especially if you plan to drive a lot or travel long distances during your trip.

You can find the supplier's mileage policy in their rental conditions:
Fuel policy:
Different car rental companies have different policies when it comes to fuel. Some of the most popular ones are:
Full-to-full
You are given a car with a full tank of fuel and are expected to also return it with a full tank which means that you need to fill up the tank right before dropping off the car.
Same-to-same
You are given a car with a certain amount of fuel and are expected to return the car with the same amount.
Full-to-empty
You pay in advance for a full tank of fuel when picking up a car and are allowed to return the car with an empty tank; in these cases, you may or may not be compensated if you return a car with some fuel left in the tank.
Driver requirements:
Different rental car companies will have different requirements for drivers. These may include:
The minimum and maximum age of the driver
A potential young or senior driver extra fee for drivers under or over a certain age (e.g. 25 or 65 years old)
Driving experience (e.g., at least two years)
A credit card in the name of the main driver
An international driver's license (might not apply to driver's licenses that are in Latin alphabet)
The same as with mileage and fuel policies, the driver requirements of each car rental supplier be found on their rental conditions page.

Check our comprehensive FAQ section to learn more about mileage, fuel, and driver requirements, as well as other important questions.
How can I choose the right insurance for my rental car?
Choosing the right insurance is very important as it will protect you in case anything goes wrong during your rental period. If you have your own personal insurance, it may or may not cover your rental car — you should ask your insurance carrier to find out.

We strongly recommend you choose our own Full Coverage. Not only does it come at a reasonable price and covers most potential scenarios, but it will also give you clarity and peace of mind as you will have 24/7 support from our team for any issue that you might have.

Check the Insurance section of our FAQ to learn more about choosing the right insurance and everything related to it.
What type of rental car is the cheapest in Croatia?
Small cars are the cheapest in Croatia - they cost, on average, just €42 per day. The average daily price is €52 for medium cars, €90 for large cars, and €84 for SUVs. A small car is good for traveling anywhere in the country save for some remote mountain roads and off-road destinations, and can actually be more convenient in towns and cities.
Which is the best car rental company in Croatia?
Customer Rating - 8.9
Customer Rating - 8.9
Customer Rating - 8.8
Customer Rating - 8.8
Customer Rating - 8.7
What is the process of picking up and dropping off a rental car like?
To pick up a rental car, you'll need to have your booking confirmation voucher, passport, driver's license, a credit card on the main driver's name, and all the other necessary documents.

When making the reservation, you will see your rental car's pickup location, of which there are many types. Since most travelers tend to pick up their rental cars at the airport, we'll mainly focus on the pickup locations in or near the airport. These are the most popular pickup location types:

  • Meet & Greet. With this type of pickup location, you'll be met by an employee of the car rental company in the arrivals hall of the airport which you normally enter right after leaving the baggage claim area. The employee will usually have a printed sign with your name on it. The employee will take you to the company's office to proceed with signing the rental contract and collecting the car's keys.
  • In the terminal. In this case, you will have to find your rental car company's desk yourself. The desk will be usually located in the arrivals hall. Once you've found the desk, you can present your documents and continue with the pickup procedure. Do keep in mind that you might have to wait in line.
  • Shuttle bus. In certain cases, the car rental company's desk might be located outside the airport's terminal. Sometimes you can reach it on foot, but in most cases, you need to take a shuttle bus. For this, you'll need to find the shuttle bus stop inside the airport, the location of which will be given to you when making the booking. Sometimes, the shuttle bus is shared by multiple car rental companies while others have their own shuttle service just for them. Look for the name and the logo of your rental company to make sure you take the right shuttle bus.
  • Delivery service. This type of pick-up is similar to Meet & Greet but takes even less time to complete as you won't need to go to the car provider's office to sign the agreement.
  • Car rental center. This means that your car rental company shares its location with other companies. The car rental center is located in the arrivals hall, in another part of the terminal, or in a separate building next to the terminal.
  • Outside terminal. This pick-up location means that your car rental company has an individual desk located outside the airport's terminal, but within the larger airport complex, that can usually be reached on foot

At the pickup location: After the car rental company checks your documents and make sure you have enough deposit on your credit card, you will receive the car's keys and be taken to the rental car which will usually be parked in a nearby parking lot.

Inspect the car: Upon picking up the car, you will have to sign a document called the check-out form. If your rental car has any scratches or other types of damage, they should be listed on the form. Inspect the car carefully — if it has any scratches or other issues that are not listed, make sure to point them out to the employee before signing the check-out form. The form will also list the mileage and the amount of fuel the car has at the pickup time.

Take photos: It is generally a very good idea to take photos of the car before picking it up, preferably from multiple angles and including the inside of the car with the odometer showing the previous mileage on the car and of the amount of fuel in the tank (read more about fuel on our Fuel Policy section above). The photos should have a timestamp to show the date and time when they were taken; most pictures taken with mobile and digital cameras have them.

Find out the drop-off location: Before leaving with the car, make sure you find out the exact drop-off location and the directions to get there. While it will often be the same as the pickup location, it might also be in a completely different part of the airport (this is especially the case with the larger airports that have multiple terminals).

Returning the car: When dropping off the car at the end of your trip, carefully check the vehicle in the presence of an employee of the rental company. If any new scratches or damages are found, the company employee should point them out in your presence. If there are none, the car's check-in form should state that the car has been returned in the same condition. The same applies to the cleanliness of the car (if you return a car that is not clean, the company might later charge an extra cleaning fee). Make sure to check the car's trunk and the glove compartment to avoid leaving any personal belongings in the vehicle.
Can I add extras for the rental car when booking?
You might also want to add some extras for your rental car such as a GPS system, a child's seat, second-driver permission (if you're traveling with a friend or a family member who can and wants to drive). If you plan to drive in the Alps or Pyrenees, snow chains might be useful or even necessary during winter. Be sure to search for them in advance and add them before making the booking. Not every rental car supplier will have all of these extras available. Adding extras will influence the final price of a car and different car rental companies offer them for different prices.
What are the traffic rules in Croatia?
Croatia drives on the right-hand side of the road.
During autumn and spring (from October to March), you need to drive with your headlights on, even during the day.
Proof of insurance and the car's documentation need to be in it whenever you're driving.
When driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
The use of the mobile phone while driving is only permitted with a hands-free system that has a loudspeaker and a fixed microphone.
All travelers from outside the European Union are required to show an International Driving Permit. Not having one can lead to the rental company refusing to provide you a car and the loss of any payment made.
The nationwide emergency number, like elsewhere in the Euroopean Union, is 112.


What are the speed limits in Poland?
Are there speed cameras in Croatia?
Yes, there are more than 1,000 speed cameras in Croatia. If one registers you speeding, the fine will be sent to your rental car supplier. They might add an additional fee for administering the fine.
What are the drunk driving laws in Croatia?
The legal alcohol limits are 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.00% for novice drivers and drivers under the age of 24. Exceeding the limits, especially if coupled with offences like speeding, can lead to high fines or even license loss or imprisonment.
Are there toll roads in Croatia?
There's a toll to be paid for using most Croatian motorways. There are two types of tolls in Croatia, the open ones and the closed ones. On open toll motorways, which are mostly tunnels, bridges, and short stretches of highway, the driver pays before entering or crossing. On closed toll motorways, the driver gets a ticket when entering the road given and will pay for the distance driven when exiting. If you lose the ticket, you'll need to pay for the maximum length of the toll road.

Payment for the toll road can be made either in cash or by credit card. You can also purchase a smart card or an expiring seasonal smart card that will include a 10% discount. Both types of smart cards are non-refundable. Note: Some, but not all rental cars are equipped with an electronic transponder, the price of which is usually included in the rental price. Do ask the rental supplier about it in advance and make sure to check the rental conditions before booking the car. Find out more about the toll roads in Croatia on the European toll road website.

Aleksandrs Buraks

Head of Growth at DiscoverCars.com
Aleksandrs has over 10 years of experience in marketing with a focus on creating stellar content that provides topical insights using data. Having taken five road trips across Europe and one in the U.S., he is passionate about traveling by car. His favorite countries to visit are Denmark and Thailand. You can find him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.

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